Legendary photographer Bill Cunningham, who had a massive influence and impact on the world of fashion, passed away on Saturday. He was 87.
Working for the New York Times for as many as 40 years, he was hospitalized recently after suffering from a stroke.
Cunningham started his fashion career in millinery after dropping out of Harvard University, as reported by Yahoo News. While he served in the Korean War, he went on to achieve scores of accomplishments in his career as a fashion reporter while working for several notable establishments like the Chicago Tribune, Women’s Wear Daily and the Times.
In 2008, he received the Legion of Honor by the French government. He was also celebrated at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, with a life-sized mannequin on him featured at the window. In 2009, the New York Landmarks Conservancy made him a living landmark. The New Yorker wrote about his On the Street and Evening Hours columns, describing them as the city’s unofficial yearbook – “an exuberant, sometimes retroactively embarrassing chronicle of the way we looked.”
A documentary chronicling the life and work of Cunningham, “Bill Cunningham New York,” premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010.
“When I’m photographing, I look for the personal style with which something is worn — sometimes even how an umbrella is carried or how a coat is held closed,” Cunningham once said, as reported by the New York Times. “At parties, it’s important to be almost invisible, to catch people when they’re oblivious to the camera — to get the intensity of their speech, the gestures of their hands. I’m interested in capturing a moment with animation and spirit.”
He is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Many celebrities and personalities from the world of fashion took to social media to share their condolences.
Marc Jacobs a picture of the photographer in the front row clicking pictures at a fashion show. “#RIP Bill Cunningham,” his tweet said. Vera Wang’s post on Twitter said, “As someone who was always supportive, kind, elegant and brilliant, I will miss your enormous.”
Kenneth Cole said, “He defined much of what we call
#NYStyle. He was a devoted artist and style icon that will be missed.”